This plan consists of converting a portion of the golf course to a stormwater detention area and widening Little Cypress Creek in the middle of the property from 340 feet to 600 feet to improve drainage. HCFCD Director of Operations Alan Black said preliminary plans show a water surface elevation reduction of about 6.7 feet at Longwood Trace and nearly 11 feet at Kluge Road.
If fully constructed, HCFCD officials said the risk of flooding would be reduced for hundreds in Longwood Village, and more than 3,000 homes in surrounding neighborhoods would benefit from the project.
Billy Sitton is a founding partner with Triumph Golf, the company that owns Longwood Golf Club, and he said these plans would mean losing nine of the course’s 27 holes and rerouting the remaining 18 for a high-end golf course. He said he believes the project would protect the neighborhood and the golf course.
“It’s not like the golf course wins and the community loses or anything like that,” Sitton said. “The golf course would keep two-thirds of its land with the chance that it doesn’t flood in the future—a chance to have a viable business.”
A feasibility study has already been conducted for this project, but the preliminary engineering and final design phases—which take nine to 12 months each—still have to take place before the construction process begins. District officials said the project, if approved, would take three to five years overall.
The flood mitigation project falls under the Little Cypress Creek Frontier Program, a masterplan for the fast-growing, 52-square-mile watershed, which was included in the HCFCD’s $2.5 billion bond program that passed in August 2018. Reconstructing the remaining 18 holes is a $6.5 million, six- to nine-month project that would come out of Triumph Golf’s pocket.
But before plans can move forward, the Longwood Village Homeowners Association must approve the amendment of the golf course’s existing deed restriction to give the property a higher valuation, which would support the cost of retaining an 18-hole golf course after the flood mitigation project is constructed.
After two informational meetings with the district and Longwood residents, negotiations are “at a standstill,” HCFCD Deputy Executive Director Matt Zeve said at a Feb. 11 Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce meeting.
“The flood control district does have the ability to exercise eminent domain to acquire property, and we have done that in the past. It’s generally our last resort,” Zeve said. “We like to try to negotiate a deal, but no decision has been made if the Longwood HOA situation doesn’t work out.”
Officials from the HOA board did not respond to a request for comment before press time.
Sitton said most of the resident feedback he receives is positive, but those from the 2% of homes located on the golf course where construction would talk place are concerned about a potential decline in property values and an unattractive detention area.
However, he said the detention area could become a park featuring jogging, fishing and other activities. He also said property values are likely to increase with reduced flood risk.
Longwood Golf Club has invested $1.47 million in flood repair work since 2016—the last time the course was profitable. Sitton said a functioning 18-hole course is more practical than the 27-hole course that regularly closes for flood damage renovations.
“Everyone keeps talking about Triumph profiting off of this. I’m still trying to figure out how losing a third of our business and trying to ... have a chance at a viable business is profiting,” Sitton said. “Triumph’s not the big winner in this. ... The community is the big winner in this.”